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Thirty Seconds over the North Pole - Afterword
by Wanderer
Wanderer -- all rights reserved

"... and I told him, if he's not willing to get a better craft table, he'll just have to wait until I get back from lunch and be happy with it." The wince that went around the table was echoed in my shaking head. "I know. If he didn't need a 'trained wolf' on this shoot so badly, I'd never have done it, but spray cheese and crackers?" I rolled my eyes heavenward. "Great Thespis, how are thy children... fallen... ?"

I stumbled to a stop as I saw the highly-intelligent (just ask her, but clear your calendar first) Sue Carter standing over the table. Once she saw she had my attention, she spoke. "I wish to speak with you."

I nodded. "I'll be right back", I said to my fellow furry friends. "Be sure and get a refill on the warm cider, will you?"

That done, I followed the doctoral dryad to a dark and secluded corner. Not that I entirely trusted the woman, of course... while not in her league, a 'merely' gifted intellect could still be smart enough to worry about being out-thought. Still, I had some idea of the reason for this sudden sidebar at the side of the bar.

"I had noted your reaction with regard to certain elements of my account", she informed me, confirming my suspicions. "May I inquire as to the reason?"

My reaction had been remarkably subtle by most standards, just a near-choking over my small glass of eggnog. Still, I would have noticed it, and an actor hates to notice that sort of thing. "Merely a small matter", I temporized, "though you may wish to modify the name of your de-explosive gate modulator when dealing with anyone old enough to have seen certain films televised."

"Ah dear Wanderer, I know. But, so sadly nobody under the age of thirty would have ever recognized the term since all those cartoons have been censored into oblivion, and haven't even been shown in the last 21.4 years. It's there for us old foggies to snicker it. Otherwise, my tail was believable?"

With any other audience, I might have looked behind her and asked where it had gone. She has little patience with me, however, so I refrained. "For the most part." I shrugged. "You could just as easily have made Santa a polymorph or inanimorph with similar abilities to Jubatus. It would have shortened the story, however, so I sha'n't complain." I shook my head. "You have made only one sizable omission, and it is easily rectified."

"Oh?" The dryness was Saharan.

"Merely the annoying tendency of plants' cells, with their thicker cell walls, to burst in extremes of cold." I shrugged once more. "Nothing much."

She smirked. "So. You hold that I should have perished messily in the Arctic wastes?"

"Hardly", I answered, almost matching her for dryness. "At your volume, assuming any reasonable technological adaptation, it would be no more than an annoyance as you lost several skin cells. It makes the experience more vivid, is all."

She nodded coolly, but abandoned her smirk. "I shall note the matter for future inclusion. It was otherwise acceptable?"

I gave her my own smirk. "My poor ego would like to lodge a complaint over being left out, but yes. Completely believable."

She nodded briskly. "I shall endeavour to correct that oversight in future, though I do not promise the nature of the 'correction'."

My tail visibly drooped, but I answered with a half-smile. "I'm an actor, dear doctor. You don't get parts unless you take them as written." She'll probably write me in as a half-starved refugee from a horror movie...

"Agreed, then." She half-turned. "Thank you for the... fertilizer."

I felt my expression turn pained. "Only too happy. After all, your bark is worse than..."

"... your bite, I know. Thank you." And with that she dropped me from her awareness with a near-audible thud. As she turned away, I retreated to my nice, safe table among people who don't put the word 'mere' in front of the word 'actor', however unvoiced.

"Everything okay?" The question caught me unawares, and I failed to note which Boy produced it.

"Oh, wonderful", I answered sourly. "Just feeling like the tree tried to mark territory on me, is all."

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